IANA handed out the last of the IPv4 licenses earlier this week, as we reported. The analyst firm ZapThink compares the impending depletion of IPv4 addresses to Y2K. Y2K ultimately led to little more than a boom in ERP and colloidal silver sales, but as ZapThink points out there was a fundamental difference: “We’re not nearly as worked up about IPv4 exhaustion as we were about Y2K ahead of the fact.”

Had fewer companies done due-diligence to update systems for Y2K, could it have been more of a problem? That’s controversial even today. Clearly, some people overreacted, but there were some problems as a result of Y2K. Could it have been worse? And are we paying enough attention to IPv6?

ZapThink emphasizes four issues:

  • Issue #1: Is IPv6 far enough along to support a relatively seamless transition?
  • Issue #2: Will Network Address Translation (NAT) extend our supply of IPv4 addresses for long enough for IPv6 to become fully established?
  • Issue #3: Will we be able to free up enough IP addresses from the organizations who have surpluses?
  • Issue #4: Will the open, route-around-problems nature of the Internet lead to a straightforward resolution to the IPv4 exhaustion crisis?

The firm looks at each issue and offers why each of these issues might be a huge problem, or why they might not be.

Our take: IPv4 is no cause for panic. The important parties – telecoms, infrastructure vendors, etc. – are taking this plenty seriously. Unlike Y2K, IPv4 is being taken exactly as seriously as it needs to be.

However, that doesn’t mean your organization shouldn’t be making transition plans. You should conduct an audit of your network equipment to make sure it’s IPv6 ready, and check with your telco about its plans for transition. Check out some of our previous coverage for more resources:

Photo by thesaint

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